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Archive for the ‘cakes’ Category

After a month of chocolate recipes followed by a bunch of beer recipes and a few Italian dishes for good measure, I was in the mood for something light, bright and tangy. Something citrus, puckery citrus. Something that screamed “Spring!!” at the top of its lungs. A tender, buttery bundt cake sounded pretty good too. Let’s combine the two, shall we?

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In college, my favorite bar hands down was an Irish bar. I went to one of those big Arizona so called “party” schools, packed with scruffy sports bars serving $2 pitchers of Coors Light. Don’t get me wrong, I frequented those establishments often but when my friends and I had a spare 10 bucks we’d head to our Irish bar for pints of Guinness or black and tans (Guinness and Harp) and a few rounds of darts. It wasn’t until much later, in Chicago, that I discovered the other Guinness drinks: the Black Velvet – Guinness and champagne – and the Snakebite – Guinness and Hard Cider. Being a champagne and a Guinness lover, I could never really get behind mixing the two but a Snakebite was quite nice on occasion. The deep dark notes of the stout were accented rather nicely by the tart, effervescent cider. Today, for St. Patrick’s Day I made this combination into a cake. Of course I did.

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I spend an inordinate amount of my time dealing with leftovers, which is funny because I don’t particularly care for them. Once I eat a meal, I’m done with very few exceptions. If I have people over for dinner, out comes my stash of takeout and deli containers, everything is neatly packed and labeled and goes out the door with my guests. I don’t want to see it again. But the bulk of my leftover issues lately are ingredients; an endless parade of bags, tubs and boxes of stuff. I develop recipes and every project typically involves a few shopping trips and a whole new set of ingredients. Once the project is complete, usually after several weeks, I have a dining room table full of stuff. Stuff I have to deal with quickly because the next project is usually on the horizon. I often joke that I’m going to have a “Kathy’s Pop Up Store of Half Used Bags of Stuff” in my dining room once a month. Come one, come all!

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Financiers are a basic standard in the repertoire of any pastry chef. A simple cake consisting of egg whites, powdered sugar, almond flour and a good bit of browned butter, they are traditionally baked in small bar molds and served as a mignardise or petit four at the end of the meal. They are rich, toothsome and best enjoyed as a small bite. The history around this traditional French cake comes from the Parisian financial district and the clever bakers in the surrounding shops. They developed sturdy little butter cakes, said to hold up well in pockets, to sustain the financial workers in their neighborhoods. Another theory is the name came from the traditional rectangular mold said to resemble a bar of gold. I suspect it’s a combination of both. These pâtisseries practiced a key business rule early on: know your customer. Marketing via the late 1800’s.

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I’ve been doing quite a bit of recipe development work lately which is great but there is always the same end result: piles of random, leftover ingredients. The bags and boxes are open so I can’t donate them to the food pantry and it’s often too much for me to work through, knowing the next assignment is coming down the pike with even more stuff. In fact today, the FedEx guy delivered a 15 pound box of even more stuff from a client. Of the 9 things in the box, I really only need 2 of them and I’m not really sure why their light brown sugar is better or different than the brown sugar I have. But it is not for me to decide these things; I’ll use it at some point. The 5 pounds of lecithin, I’m not so sure. I’ve joked with my friends that when this round is over I’m going to have a pop-up grocery store in my dining room. Half filled bags of stuff for cheap! Kathy’s Store of Cheap Random Crap. C’mon down!

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I’m feeling rather tropical as of late. Must be the heat or maybe its the 24-hour cycle of Olympic events from Rio that is emanating from every electronic device I own. All this broadcasting from Copacabana Beach is making me crave tropical drinks with long straws and plastic monkey decorations like nobody’s business. A recent stop at the local produce market persuaded me to grab case of ripe mangoes bought on the cheap. I can never resist a deal. I immediately ate one warm out of the case, sticky orange juice running down my arm. The next day, I did the same thing with a cold one. I like them better cold. Two down, six to go. I made some coconut sticky rice and sliced the third one on top. Five left.

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I had two pressing matters last week. First, I needed to make some space in my freezer, which was packed to the gills. Second, I needed a coffeecake. The situation I was facing was not an unusual one in my world; I was helping two friends, one a butcher and one a photographer, with a photoshoot. They had procured a big, beautiful pig and over the course of two busy days were going to break down (i.e. butcher into various cuts) and photograph the beast. Hence my needs: I knew I’d be coming home with a lot of beautiful pork and nowhere to put it and I knew with no budget, there would be no lush breakfast funded by a paying client. As happens with weekend shoots, we’d be tired and hungry, necessitating a continuous flow of coffee and sugar. I perused the contents of my freezer and pulled out a bag of fat blueberries I’d frozen last summer. A coffeecake was in the works. Something nice to start two very busy, intense days.

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